Next Tech Area To Be Hindered By Patents: Nanotech… And Much Of It Is Funded With Your Tax Dollars

from the step-on-up dept

As with any “hot” technology area, it doesn’t take long for a massive, innovation hindering patent thicket to spring up. It effectively makes it impossible to bring anything to market unless you’ve got a huge patent portfolio yourself and deep pockets. Yet another example of patents harming the smaller players in the market. A new report is suggesting that the latest “hot” area to get patent crazy is nanotechnology.

However, the really worrying thing about the report is that it notes that the single largest “patent patron” in nanotechnology… is the federal government. Yes, the government is spending your tax dollars to have these new inventions locked up so you can’t use them. We’ve discussed this before, and no one has yet been able to credibly explain why federally funded research should get a patent. Years back, it was determined that federal documents could not be covered by copyright for this reason, but why doesn’t that extend to patents? It’s especially disturbing because it’s clear what’s going to happen. Our tax dollars pay for the research, and then it’s transferred over to a private company who uses the monopoly rights to keep it expensive and limit further innovation.

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Comments on “Next Tech Area To Be Hindered By Patents: Nanotech… And Much Of It Is Funded With Your Tax Dollars”

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KeithV (profile) says:

I could actually be a good thing

There have been cases mentioned on this site about private companies getting patents on Federal research, so it could be a good thing that the Federal Government pre-empts the private sector in this way…

… Presuming of course that those patents remain free to the public in perpetuity …

… Which of course they won’t …

coldbrew says:


I know that here in Colorado, the National Renewable Energy Labs’ plan is to license the IP developed to private corporations to commercialize so they can fund their continued research. I know of a couple companies that have already licensed some, and are working to bring it to market (I know this b/c I know an investor involved with 2 of the companies).

I doubt they have a plan to license tech to patent trolls, though it obviously could happen. I can find out if these licenses are exclusive, but I don’t believe they are (IIRC).

Anonymous Coward says:

the government is spending your tax dollars to have these new inventions locked up so you can’t use them.

I am trying to figure this one out. Are you suggesting the government is gaining patents on things and then purposefully locking them away? They aren’t intending in any way to license them out?

What is your source for this?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It depends. If they are selling them for a profit, I am all for it. if they spend X and get 2 times X for the patent, they have done exactly what modern capitalism says they should do.

Just as importantly, if they made things happens years ahead, it means the patent clock also started ticking years ahead. So even IF (unproven) companies buy it and lock it up and never, ever, ever, use it, the patent clock is already running. But that would of course assume that the companies are stupidly spending money just to spite the market, which seems like a very, very huge assumption.

Again, I ask: Is there proof these patents are getting locked up and not used?

Anonymous Coward says:

Apparently, few here are familiar with the Bayh-Dole Act, codified at 35 USC 200-212, as well as the FAR 52.227-11, 12, and 13. If they did have such familiarity, they would realize that much of what is said about Bayh-Dole is FUD.

This does not mean I support Bayh-Dole (I do not express any opinion on the Act), but only that most of the indignation associated with it is based upon a lack of understanding about what the Bayh-Dole Act really says, and how it has been implemented via the FAR.

Quite frankly, my concerns are directed to inventions created solely by federal employees as a part of their ordinary and customary on the job responsibilities.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I guess citing where the law can be found so you can read it and form your own opinion is out of vogue.

If you did read it you would quickly discover that “sitting on a subject invention” is a “no-no”, the USG holds a license under any subject invention for which a private sector participant to a “funding agreement” elects domestic/ international rights, there is one circumstance under which the USG can contract for title to reside in it and not the private sector participant, and the USG reserves “march-in” rights.

These terms are all defined in the cited statutes and regulations, and taking the time to actually read them and assimilate what they say would provide some modicum of education that would give readily demostrate why FUD is an accurate term used to describe much of what is said about inventions funded in whole or in part by the USG.

Knowledge is power. Refusing to acquire knowledge is nothing more that a symptom of laziness.

By your comment you appear to fall within the latter.

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